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The Rundown

2:30 PM EST: What does it mean when Newt Gingrich and Paul Krugman both dislike the same legislative proposal? That it must be bad? That it's "just right"? That the Earth has tilted off its axis?

We'll learn more as the week progresses, and yes, that's "week," not "the next 24 hours," according to Barney Frank and assorted important members of Congress who appear increasingly eager to tinker with the Bush administration's financial bailout plan. Obama talked about his own sweeping proposal this morning, while McCain professed to being "deeply uncomfortable" with the Bush plan. (Really, it's the Paulson plan. He's president now, right?)

From the Department of Less Important News comes the ongoing "controversy" over the fact that McCain has 13 cars, a few of which are foreign. Think how unwieldy his keychain must be! That must be an especially lucky number for the Arizona Senator, as it turns out he's also currently the 13th richest member of Congress, according to one estimate. He can't dump any of that money into his campaign now (it's mostly Cindy's anyway), but he could always take out some frustration by buying The New York Times.

11 AM EST: Stocks started down today; Does Wall Street think the House and Senate are capable of completing a massively complicated and expensive piece of legislation in a week? Does ANYONE think they are?

A worried President Bush, who must be new to town and thus unfamiliar with how Congress works, said this morning that "it would not be understandable if members of Congress sought to use this emergency legislation to pass unrelated provisions, or to insist on provisions that would undermine the effectiveness of the plan."

McCain and Obama are likely reviewing their schedules right now, and hoping that the key Senate votes on the financial package, whenever they do come, don't force them to miss any big campaign events. Obviously they won't be willing to miss Friday night's first debate, and we learned today whom each candidate will use as a foil in their practice debates: Obama's camp will have uberlawyer Greg Craig stand in for McCain, while the McCain shop has asked, um, Michael Steele to stand in as Obama. Expect the pro-Obama blogs to have a field day with that one.

Need a break from the presidential campaign? Head over to the D.C. federal courthouse today for a good, old-fashioned corruption trial. Jury selection starts today for "Uncle" Ted Stevens, who allegedly forgot (and who among us hasn't?) to report on his official disclosure forms that he got all kinds of goodies -- a massage chair, wraparound deck, discounted car, etc. -- from an Alaska oil services firm. Related question: Has anyone gotten a substantive answer from Sarah Palin on whether she's endorsing Stevens for reelection?

8 AM EST: Another day, another seismic shift on Wall Street for which John McCain and Barack Obama can tar each other as unprepared. This morning's headliners are Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and the swing-state datelines will be Pennsylvania (Scranton and Media) for McCain and Wisconsin (Green Bay) for Obama. The Eagles won and the Packers lost yesterday, and if you can figure out what that means for November, we want to hear your theory. Find out how to share it at the end of this post.

Good Monday morning, and welcome to the official launch of Political Browser, a new feature on washingtonpost.com that brings together the day's most important political stories, polls, videos, facts, statistics and photos from around the Web, selected by the Post's award-winning political team. We hope to make Political Browser your go-to page for the best or most provocative journalism on the presidential campaign, as well as key races for Congress and statehouses. We will be updating the page throughout the day, so come back again and again for the best take on news and analysis that is shaping the day's political conversation. (Go ahead and bookmark it. You know you want to.)

This blog, The Takeaway, will provide a quick dose and analysis of the latest news, beginning at 8 a.m. ET, and updated every few hours as your humble blogger ingests more caffeine. And away we go ...

Sunday's fine slate of NFL games was bracketed by Important Television You Should Have Watched, starting with Hank Paulson making the round of all the morning shows, always a neat trick when you think about how far apart some of the studios are. His (highly reassuring) message: We don't really know yet how much the bailout will cost, but we have to do it.

Sunday night brought 60 Minutes of Obama and McCain and, blessedly, no Andy Rooney. McCain caused a brief stir by suggesting he might appoint Andrew Cuomo as SEC chairman, a choice that conservatives would just love, right? Both Obama and McCain declared themselves absolutely, positively ready to handle an economic crisis, and we'll hear their latest lukewarm endorsements of the Bush administration's bailout plans at those Pennsylvania and Wisconsin speeches.

On Capitol Hill, The Takeaway's second home, the House and Senate will try this week to complete bailout legislation as well as a continuing resolution to keep the government running at least through mid-November, so don't expect either chamber to adjourn by Friday.

So, do you have thoughts on how the NFL results might affect November? Or thoughts on anything else? Please do weigh in in the comments section below or in any box on the Political Browser page. Better yet, head over to the Reader Picks section and tell us what stories and blog posts we should be reading and featuring.

By Ben Pershing  |  September 22, 2008; 6:31 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Wonderful idea!

Posted by: Cara Prado | September 22, 2008 8:33 AM

excellent idea!

Posted by: linda | September 22, 2008 9:46 AM

You've just been scammed again. First 9/11 - the world will end and terroists will be in our malls if we don't attack Iraq, and now the financial "crisis" - the world will end and you won't be able to buy milk on main street if you don't transfer billions of dollars to me and my friends. A convenient side-bar - The Democrats, faced with a trillion dollar debt, will have to take measures that will limit them to one term.

Posted by: David Jackson | September 22, 2008 9:48 AM

This election cycle swings faster than Faraday ever imagined.. We have to meet twice a day at the general store just to keep up. .............

Posted by: Ohg Rea Tone | September 22, 2008 10:02 AM

Barack Obama doesn't just hold out hope for change, he IS change -- and all that comes with it. McCain, never really the maverick, and Palin, never really anything but from Alaska, will neither bring any substantive change nor any genuine prospect for such. They are captives of the Republican establishment and would be only as innovative as that establishment allows them to be, which is not at all. In this case, better to trust that which we do not know, than to trust that which, to our enormous loss, we know all too well.

Posted by: Stanley F. Nelson | September 22, 2008 10:11 AM

I wonder what the true value - the ACTUAL WORTH - is of the rotten pieces of paper those supposedly 700 billion dollars of our money are supposedly buying, and who would purchase them, so we could get at least some of our money back ??

Posted by: Herb Rosenbaum | September 22, 2008 10:36 AM

Sarah Palin and the Death of Cheese

When I was a teenager, the things that we deemed fake and/or trying too hard were called cheesy. By deriding a cultural event (a person or a TV show or similar) in such a way was to reduce it instantly to the marginal status it rightfully deserved.

For example, the syndicated ur-American Idol, Star Search (hosted by Ed McMahon), was cheesy. It was filled with lesser talents desperate in their ambition to become stars.

Then came the Fox Network which began to elevate cheese to a heretofore unattainable status. News and entertainment of dubious quality and substandard moral values achieved prime time network eminence. Cable television, of course, had already begun to chip away at the invisible wall of cultural standards, but Fox, with it’s much broader reach, moved the ball irrevocably forward. I point to the TV show Married with Children, as an example.

Then came the Internet which is the great leveler of Democracy. With the means for any person to reach anyone, any time, the Internet sounded the final death knell of cheese. This democratization has been both a great boon for society and a shameful leveling of the cultural standards that were once an implicit part of our social contract. Paris Hilton being a prime example.

While this leveling has given millions - myself included - a means to express themselves and reach a broader audience, it has also destroyed the hierarchy that maintained standards of prudence and decency. Genuine talent is no longer necessary to achieve acclaim. Just good looks and a good publicist. Ambition, which formerly needed to be framed by legitimate qualifications, became a talent in-and-of itself.

This death of cheese has so permeated the culture that no sector is left untainted. The genius of Karl Rove was in recognizing this cultural shift and exploiting it in politics to advance the extreme right-wing agenda of his boss George W. Bush. Of course, the agenda wasn’t really Bush’s. He, we all know now, barely has a thought in head. But he was the imperfect vehicle (rhetorically challenged, incurious, arrogant, though secretly insecure) which Rove utilized in this time to ensure that the ambition of the GOP was fulfilled. Bush won two terms. The first, barely, because he was someone you wanted to have a beer with. The second because 9/11 scrambled the brains of Americans.

I, like many of you, have always held a deep suspicion that this cultural change portended bad things for America and the world. I’ve watched as Americans have become stupider, more manipulatable, less interested in the world around them. They are all too busy dancing in the mirror.

And now, with Sarah Palin, my fears have been justified. She is the Reality TV/American Idol candidate for the most powerful office in the world. Without legitimate qualifications and the necessary interest and judgment to hold the office she seeks, she has risen like a phoenix to become an uber-celebrity and, somehow, beyond all logic and reason, a genuine possibility to be president of the United States.

Cheese thy name is Sarah.

This is what we always feared. The great democratization of society has put intelligence on the same level as stupidity. Character on the same level as good looks. Judgment on the same level as “gut” reaction.

Nothing is cheesy anymore. And, as a result, what finally happens when a society abandons it’s standards is that Sarah Palin can have her manicured finger on the button.

I want my cheese back.


Posted by: ES | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Here we go again. It's Presidential election time, and we must all be SCARED, very scared.

I'm less scared about our financial crisis than I am about the possibility of having a hot-headed, angry old man making monumental decisions that will affect the whole US population.

Posted by: Barbara McAulay | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM

"A worried President Bush, who must be new to town and thus unfamiliar with how Congress works..."

Mr. Pershing must be new to town, because he's clearly forgotten how Pres. Bush works.

The Iron Law of Bush Expediency states: Anything Pres. Bush says must be done immediately is a terrible idea.

Posted by: howlless | September 22, 2008 12:22 PM

Palin is so, so nowhere. She's not worth mocking; it's not needed. She's a cartoon.

Posted by: Dianed | September 22, 2008 2:17 PM

"The sky is falling..the sky is falling"I honestly didn't agree with him when he dragged us into Iraq, and I don't want to give into his threats this time either.Of course we're in financial ruins right now,but desperate times donot always require desperate measures. OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

Posted by: PUREDEMO | September 22, 2008 2:31 PM

all who think Palin Mcain answer to their republican handlers say aye.
I agree; you will be less safe, poorer by far, and continually further away from any kind of democracy.

Posted by: ukeman | September 22, 2008 3:26 PM

The need a real redneck loan shark from rural Missouri to fix this mess. But we cant find him, he loaned out all his money then skipped town. .........

Posted by: Ohg Rea Tone | September 22, 2008 4:14 PM

I was a Hillary supporter and yes I was angry because I felt she had been treated unfairly by the media and the Democratic establishment.Now, however, I support Obama because the alternative would be an extension of the ineptitude of the bush administration coupled with a turn to the right. John is not a maverick as regards the economy and the freedom of choice: he has always supported deregulation and has maintained that he will appoint conservative justices. Good bye consumer rights and reproductive choice!Obama, conversely is calm, reflective, and extremely intelligent and well educated. I believe any decisions he makes will entail a great deal of planning and contemplation. I don't think he would provoke a war with Russia, for example.McCain, on the other hand tends to rush to bluster which may have unintended consequences.

Posted by: CarolAvrin | September 22, 2008 6:57 PM

Watch the first Presidential Debate on Friday - the topic is national security. John McCain will be promoting his Doctrine of Coercive Diplomacy. ...........

Posted by: Ohg Rea Tone | September 24, 2008 8:30 AM

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